It was during the summer of love 50 years ago that two free spirits, Vince and Audrey Cilurzo, left Hollywood for the country and planted some grape vineyards about an hour outside of Los Angeles in what is now known as the Temecula Valley.
Since then the valley, with its Mediterranean climate 22 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, has grown to more than 40 wineries, with many more in production. Over two dozen grape varieties thrive in the region including Italian and Rhone grapes, such as Sangiovese and syrah. The majority of wineries are family-owned and welcome about 1.7 million visitors a year, garnering awards every year.
Together with one of the region’s top chefs, Leah Di Bernardo from E.A.T. Marketplace, the next generation of winemakers brought a taste of Temecula to the Bocca in Venice for a 10-course meal featuring some of the area’s wine offerings on Tuesday, June 19. A special table wine blend of 50 percent syrah, 26 percent grenache and 24 percent mourvedre was created to celebrate the valley's 50th anniversary.
Generous offerings including grilled peach toast, seared king trumpet mushrooms and confit pork belly with strawberries and local halibut were paired with varietals from Leoness Cellars, Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Doffo Winery. Guests were greeted with sparkling wine and Indian-spiced popcorn and ricotta beignets upon arrival to the hidden spot off Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
“My father’s in his second year of retirement right now and is always off somewhere riding motorcycles,” Damian Doffo told the crowd as he introduced his father, Marcelo Doffo, from Doffo Winery. “In honor of those two passions we created the Motodoffo Grand Tinto red wine blend.”
One of Doffo’s most popular selections, the bottle features a label with racing motorcycles created by artist Robert Carter.
Here's a taste of the event.